As the summer approaches, more and more residents and visitors in Norfolk are going to be out on the water.
And one local business is trying to make the rivers that give Norfolk its namesake more accessible.
Lita Stuthman, the co-owner of North Fork Outfitting with her husband, Tony, said that recreation is important for the community, as it gives people a reason to visit and stay in Norfolk.
“The complaint we hear is that there’s nothing for people here,” Stuthman said. “We want to bring things that people want to do and a give people an outlet to stay here. People can come here and kayak or skate or use the trails.”
The Stuthmans are outsiders originally. Tony and Lita met in Las Vegas in the 1990s and moved to Norfolk in 2001. Since then, they have watched the community grow and have decided to play a role in its growth.
“When we got the opportunity to get started, we were really excited to bring something to people,” she said.
Among other things, they partner with other local businesses and volunteer to help with local charities, such as The Zone After School program.
“We’re trying to connect to the people and the small businesses,” Stuthman said. “We are doing this for our community.”
Stuthman said recreation and kayaking in particular has been growing in the area.
“We see sales for kayaks at some stores, and they will be sold out within a week or two,” she said. “So there are people who want to get out and do this.”
Stuthman said many customers have come away with a positive experience.
“It’s a fun experience, from kids to elderly people,” she said. “It’s not very strenuous but it is a very healthy, active thing for all generations.”
One experience that stands out to Stuthman was a couple several years ago that went kayaking together on a first date. The girl was hit in the head with a flying fish.
“She was such a good sport about it,” Stuthman said with a chuckle.
Years later, Stuthman said, she saw the couple kayaking again, still together.
Unique experiences like that help bring people and families together, she said.
North Fork Outfitters offers kayaking and tubing at Skyview Lake, the North Fork of the Elkhorn River and the Elkhorn River. They’ve also been expanded to bike rentals and skate rentals at their new location just north of Second Street and Braasch Avenue, which is set to open this summer.
“We keep expanding and try new things to bring people in,” Stuthman said.